Wollongong City Council is planning their first inclusive play space in North Wollongong that provides for young people and adults with disability.
Council are seeking feedback from the community on their plans to expand Stuart Park's existing playground to incorporate new features as well as phased improvements to access, linking paths and parking.
"It's our intention for this playground to offer stimulating equipment and physical challenges that will provide a space for young adults with disability including those who are non-verbal or have limited verbal language," said Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery.
"We also want it to provide a range of natural and sensory spaces and ultimately form a positive play space that supports people of all ages and abilities.'
"The concept plan is meant to be the basis for discussion, to share opinions and ideas to make this the best of playgrounds for all ages and abilities in our city."
The concept for an inclusive play space has been in the planning for some time and is intended to be delivered in two stages.
In 2019 Council partnered with the University of Wollongong and the Disability Trust on a research project titled "Giving Voice to the Voiceless", which sought to collect the opinions of people with severe intellectual disability and who are functionally non-verbal about how they would like to use playgrounds.
This research project was one of four that received funding through the University's Community Engagement Grant Scheme, which seeks to address key challenges in the community.
The research results have directly informed the development of a purpose-built, all ages and all abilities playground that is suitable for young people and adults with disability.
Council also talked with young people with disability in our city to find out what they would like included in this space.
"While there are thousands of playgrounds across Australia, we believe this is a first in that it's a playground that was built with the needs of young adults with disability squarely in mind," Cr Bradbery said.
"This initiative illustrates how council is really focussed on improving the lives and wellbeing of everyone who calls Wollongong home."
Stuart Park playground would remain open during the construction phase which is planned for mid-2021.
"As a Council we've made no secret of our plans to improve accessibility across the city and this is the next step in that process,'' Cr Bradbery said.
"I'd encourage those interested in this project to look over the plans and provide their feedback through Council's engagement platform on our website. The feedback closes on Monday 15 March.''
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